After spending weeks and months tending your plants, it is finally time to harvest. There is a sense of pride that you feel after you have tenderly cared for your plants through all stages of growth, from seedling through vegetative and flowering, ensuring that they have the right lighting schedule, nutrients, temperature and humidity levels, and keeping them safe from pests and mould.
Harvest is an exciting time for growers, but it is also a time with great potential for disaster. Harvesting too early or too late can affect the quality and potency of your buds. Improper technique while harvesting and processing your cannabis can even cause problems like mildew or mould, which can ruin an entire crop. Yes, it is a delicate process, but do not be intimidated. With guidance, even first time growers can successfully harvest and cure their cannabis and turn it into top shelf, smokable buds.
The Harvesting Stage
The timing of harvest depends on various factors, such as what type of system you used to grow, whether it was indoors or outdoors, the climate/season, and more. Any person or website that advises you to rely on a strict number of days or weeks for any strain are not necessarily correct. There are guidelines for particular strains and climates, but the exact time of harvest depends on the individual plant and it takes a keen eye to spot when they are ready.
Plants that are ready to harvest should already have large, well formed buds that are sticky with resin. This resin is the key to timing your harvest. Trichomes can be seen on marijuana buds with the naked eye, but only barely – You will need a magnifier to inspect them properly. If you inspect your buds on a daily basis you will see the trichomes turn from clear to milky to an orange or amber shade. When about a quarter of the trichomes are amber colored, it is time to harvest. For more information on this tell-tale sign of harvest, read our article on Trichomes here.
Harvesting itself is fairly simple and straightforward. Use pruning shears to cut the largest branches at the base of their stems. You can trim them down to the point where you have one or two forks per branch that you can hang them from. You do not want the branches to be too bushy or it may affect airflow. Once they are cut, you can hang the branches on a clothesline or lay them flat on a drying rack. Keep your plants in a well ventilated room with constant air flow, either from an open window or a fan.
You have the choice to either trim the leaves now, or wait until they are dry. Most professional growers trim their plants while wet, although for beginners this can be a sticky, time consuming job. If you wait until they are dry, you can use a tumbler to quickly shake off the dry leaves from the buds. Bud trimmers are also available for wet trimming, but they do tend to be on the expensive side so they are often out of reach for novice growers.
Check back later this week for the final installment of our series, in which we will go over the basics of curing and processing your cannabis once it is dried. After this final step, you will be ready to enjoy the fruits of your labour!
Read Growing Cannabis for Beginners Part 1 here.
Read Growing Cannabis for Beginners Part 2 here.
Read Growing Cannabis for Beginners Part 3 here.
Read Growing Cannabis for Beginners Part 4 here.